Rugby World Cup winner back in Harborough for birthday bash

Centre, Dave Dochertry with Geordan Murphy and Martin Johnson.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER
Centre, Dave Dochertry with Geordan Murphy and Martin Johnson. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Anyone passing Market Harborough Rugby Club last Saturday might have seen a tall bloke rampaging round the pitch just like Martin Johnson.

It can’t have been him though can it? He retired more than a decade ago didn’t he?

Dave Docherty with Martin Johnson before the 40th birthday game at Market Harborough Rugby Club.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Dave Docherty with Martin Johnson before the 40th birthday game at Market Harborough Rugby Club. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Well actually it really WAS Martin Johnson, the World Cup winning England rugby captain, playing what he vowed would be his last ever rugby match - in the town where he played his first ever.

Martin (45) had turned out for a scratch team put together by friend and former fellow Leicester Tigers player Dave Docherty, for Dave’s 40th birthday.

When Dave first came over from New Zealand in the late ‘9os, he was “billeted with the Johnson family” in their home in Burnmill Road in the town.

“Martin’s like my big English brother” said Dave, who still lives in Harborough.

Geordan Murphy former Leicester Tigers and Irish International player warms up.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Geordan Murphy former Leicester Tigers and Irish International player warms up. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Dave admits he was only ever on the fringes of the Tigers First team. Nevertheless his one-off side to face a serious Stratford-upon-Avon RFC XV included former Tigers Martin, Geordan Murphy, Leon Lloyd and Boris Stankovich.

“It was really emotional to see everyone” said Dave. “But I can’t believe how sore everything is now!”

Dave’s side won 26-12. Dave scored a try. And the celebrations lasted until 2.30am...

Martin Johnson warms up before the game.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Martin Johnson warms up before the game. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Action...centre, Dave Docherty and Martin Johnson during the game.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Action...centre, Dave Docherty and Martin Johnson during the game. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Team picture before the friendly game at Market Harborough.
PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER

Team picture before the friendly game at Market Harborough. PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER